Pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico performs Canadian works for York’s Faculty Concert Series

Christina Petrowska Quilico

Christina Petrowska Quilico-story imageYork University music Professor Christina Petrowska Quilico, a renowned pianist and champion of contemporary and Canadian music, headlines York’s Faculty Concert Series on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7:30pm. She will present a program of solo piano works by rising Canadian composer Constantine Caravassilis and one of Canada’s first prominent female composers Ann Southam (1937-2010).

Christina Petrowska Quilico

Petrowska Quilico’s selections for the concert include three compositions from Caravassilis’s Visions: The Complete Books of Rhapsodies and Fantasias. Earlier this year Petrowska Quilico premiered the suite of works at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio and recorded the compositions on the Centrediscs label with the support of the inaugural Harry Freedman Award, which she received jointly with the composer.

The title Visions took inspiration from Caravassilis’s syn-aesthetic “visions”, connecting colours to sound. In response, while in the process of recording, Petrowska Quilico created more than 100 paintings to accompany the music.

Her recording and subsequent performances of Visions have met with rave reviews. The Wholenote lauded her playing as “immensely delicate but also very forceful, while never betraying any sense of effort.”

Her Nov. 14 recital will also feature a selection of new interpretations of Glass Houses, a spellbinding suite of piano pieces composed by Southam in 1981. Petrowska Quilico, who collaborated musically with Southam for nearly three decades, continued to develop the original series with the late composer’s blessing. She released a recording of Glass Houses Revisited in 2011 and is now preparing the 2009 version of the cycle, as revised by Southam, for release in 2014. She will premiere excerpts from this new collection in the concert.

“The Glass Houses are fiendishly difficult etudes,” said Petrowska Quilico. “Fingers become whirling dervishes entering a mystical and ecstatic trance through suddenly shifting patterns and moods. The dizzying tempi, speed and control required from the performer make them extremely demanding, requiring virtuosic pianistic skills.”

Petrowska’s performances and recordings of Southam’s Glass Houses have earned high critical praise. The Toronto Star hailed Glass Houses Revisited as “nothing short of miraculous … Christina Petrowska Quilico elevates to poetry the complex musical loops created by Ann Southam … That [she] can perform these … pieces is an achievement in itself; that it makes for mesmerizing listening is the magic of art.”

Petrowska Quilico has been a professor of piano performance and musicology at York since 1987. In a professional performance career spanning five decades and four continents, she has appeared on some of the world’s most prestigious concert stages. She has premiered more than 100 works, including 16 piano concerti, and has recorded some 30 CDs featuring concerti, solo and chamber works by contemporary Canadian and international composers as well as standard classical repertoire. Four of her recordings of Canadian music have earned Juno nominations. She was honoured with the 2007 Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre and Canadian League of Composers.

Petrowska Quilico’s recital is the second of four performances in the 2013-14 Faculty Concert Series spotlighting faculty artists in the Department of Music at York University. Upcoming concerts will feature jazz artists Ron Westray (trombone) on Jan. 16, 2014, and Sundar Viswanathan (saxophone, flute) on Feb. 27, 2014.

The Faculty Concert Series featuring Christina Petrowska Quilico will take place Nov. 14 at 7:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, Keele campus. Tickets are $15 each; $5 each for students and seniors. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 416-736-5888.